The first time I was 28 weeks pregnant, was great. I felt great. I looked great (*toot toot!*). I had energy. I could conquer the world! Nothing could go wrong in my world. I felt strong. I enjoyed my baby twirling in my tummy, blissfully drifting to sleep after rubbing lotion to stave off stretch marks.
The second time I was 28 weeks pregnant was a much different story. I was a bundle of nerves. I would lie awake at night, imagining my tiny little baby and what should happen should s/he come 12 weeks early. I would fret about them being able to breathe on their own. I would cry for no reason other than I was overwhelmed by the what-ifs.
What happened to give me such a drastically different outlook?
17 months earlier, my nephew was born at 28 weeks. I saw him an hour after he was born. At 2lbs 4.8oz and 14″ long, he was “big” for his gestational age. He was in the NICU for an astonishing 91 days. Not one day did my sister nor my brother-in-law miss driving 45 minutes to go see their son; to talk to him, to hold him (when able), to feed him, to change him, to love him.
If my baby was born early, would I have that strength? Would I have that Mama Bear instinct? Would the rest of my family suffer because I was too spun up about the baby in the hospital? Would I sink into depression? Would my baby live? Could I survive if they didn’t?
I can’t tell you what went through my sister’s head, day after day, as she watch the growth of her son on the outside world instead of in her womb. I can’t tell you about the conversations and arguments she probably had with God in those times that she held her naked baby to her bare chest to encourage his growth. I can’t even begin to imagine the fear that ran through her veins every time the nurses had to put Boy Wonder back on oxygen because he was struggling, or when he wouldn’t/couldn’t poop, or vomited most of his meals. I think of the courage she had every day she buzzed into that NICU, scrubbed her hands, and held her son in the stark, sanitary room. I think of the pain she must have felt for the other parents, as they came and went, in the end, not always with their babies. I think of the care she gave the nurses who could understand what she was going through and were always so loving and gentle with Boy Wonder, the friendships she made through the ordeal, and the the wisdom she gained (both of medical knowledge and of what she was able to endure).
Yes, Boy Wonder is a miracle, a gift from God, a survivor.
But so is his Mama.
And here I am… 28 weeks pregnant again. I feel hopeful. I feel that I could handle (though I don’t want to test myself… you hear me, God??) whatever is His will. I feel sad that this pregnancy has been difficult for my sister. I pray for her peace every day, and try to be mindful of her feelings, and allow her to work through the emotions as she needs to in her own time, but I also pray that it not take too long, because, honestly, I miss my sister.